|THE MORNING WATCHCHILDREN OF MENVFX ARTISTSJOKERVFX|
The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, watch as stuntment recreate a fight scene from The Mandalorian with some low-rent props and visual effects in the middle of a dojo. Plus, Patrick H Willems, or rather some of his collaborators, put together a video essay on Labyrinth and the themes of capitalism in 1980s America, and you can get a lesson on how to draw a Walt Disney caricature.
First up, some professional stuntmen, with the help of some local cosplayers and propmakers, got together in Atlanta Judo Midtown to recreate a fight scene from The Mandalorian in a very low budget style. But the camera work and cheap digital effects make this video from Legend of Micah a little more stylish than your average sweded video elsewhere on the web.
Next up, since things are crazy right now with coronavirus, Patrick H Willems takes a backseat to video essays this week. Instead, his collaborators Jake and Matt took advantage of the situation to do a video essay about the 1980s cult favorite Labyrinth starring David Bowie and how it fights back against the idea of greed being good.
Finally, Walt Disney Animation Studios animation supervisor Michael Woodside sat down to teach you how to draw a Disney-Style caricature of Walt Disney himself. It’s all in honor of the annual caricature show curated by the studio, and it’ll help you pass the time while you’re stick at home with nothing to do. Maybe you can even try to draw a caricature of someone else like this too.
While the VFX industry has shifted rapidly to remote access during the global pandemic to keep content pipelines churning, thousands of practitioners have been forced to remain in their offices, putting themselves at risk. That's because of pre-existing non-disclosure agreements NDAs designed to protect intellectual property. As of Monday, though, nearly 10,000 VFX artists have banded together in support of working remotely, signing an online petition to the Motion Picture Association of America MPAA, launched by Mario Rokicki, a color supervisor at Double Negative in Vancouver.
“The NDAs that are forced on VFX Studios put artists and [staff] at [their] peril,” wrote Rokicki. “What was [a] minor inconvenience before is the major life risk situation with Coronavirus outbreak. VFX houses have or can quickly deploy secure technology solutions to allow work from home on the projects that with the magnitude of the pandemic will probably be delayed. All I ask is to put aside often legal misguided IP protection measures and harsh NDAs and allow tens of thousands of dedicated artists to work from home and prevent total VFX studios shutdown and layoffs.”
In response, the Visual Effects Society VES lent its support through the following statement on Monday: “The Visual Effects Society wants to encourage all employers — large or small — to grant permission for their employees to work remotely during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. We understand the concerns around security to protect proprietary work product, but right now is the time for the utmost flexibility towards VFX artists and all practitioners as we try to figure our way through this crisis. Many companies are trying to take action, and we are optimistic that studios and vendors can find and enact workable solutions.”
Nicole Dove / © 2019 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Additionally, the VES Technology Committee issued a series of best practices guidelines for working from home, culled from studios, vendors, and facilities. These cover secure remote desktop solutions, band comparisons, cloud solutions, and, most important, secure file transfer solutions.
Indeed, security file transfer solutions remain the biggest concern for allowing employees to work at home, while the high cost of remote software makes it difficult for contract artists to do the same. However, some staffing is required at studios and smaller companies to keep the IT going and to move files. “Most of the studios have been amenable to it, in concept, but some companies have not been able to sort out how to let artists work from home because of the security aspects of it,” said Mike Chambers, visual effects producer Christopher Nolan's...
With large swathes of the population sitting at home, audiences have a chance to catch up on films that were released years ago and find new insights into their narrative. Recently, a fan who had been watching Suicide Squad with his family reached out to the film's director David Ayer to ask about the meaning behind the scene where the Joker is lying in the middle of a room lined with a circle of knives, guns, and baby clothes. Denying that the baby onesies were trophies after an infanticide spree on the part of the cackling psychopath, Ayer provided the following explanation for the scene instead.'No it's more innocent. Harley wanted a normal family with Joker hence the baby in her vision. I figured she would have endlessly pestered Mr. J about having a kid. So he had Mr. Frost buy some onesies. The circle represents how he sees Harley.'
The scene under discussion comes up early in the story. Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, is locked up in Arkham, and we see Joker, played by Jared Leto, in his mansion mourning her absence. He has also shown to have drawn a grin across his face using a sharpie, which according to David Ayer, is because...'He was having a hard time smiling without Harley so gave himself some help with a sharpie.'
This introduction sets up the fact that this Joker is unlike any other live-action portrayal of the supervillain as a man who is missing his demon lover. The onesies we see lined up on the floor next to the Joker later make an appearance in the scene where the Enchantress offers Harley her heart's desire, and she imagines a life of domestic bliss with her beloved Mistah J, with their babies wearing the onesies.
How the circle of knives represents Harley in the mind of the Joker is up for debate. Perhaps he fears that his affection for Harley makes her dangerous to him, and thus views her as a circle of knives drawing closer, threatening to destroy him.
This sentiment of Joker being attracted towards Harley and simultaneously hating the fact that she has made him care for her is also played out in the scene where Harley willingly throws herself into a pit of acid on Joker's command. After trying to walk away from the whole thing, Joker almost unwillingly jumps in after her and rescues her, proving that she means more to him than he can bring himself to admit.
From his explanation, it is clear that Ayer had a solid backstory and reasoning behind the script for Suicide Squad, which unfortunately did not translate very well to the big screen. But now that James Gunn has taken over directorial duties on the sequel, there is a chance to see a Suicide Squad film that gets critical acclaim in addition to minting money at the box office. David Ayer on Twitter brings us this news.
The much-discussed “butthole cut” of “Cats” has been confirmed by an anonymous VFX artist who worked on the Tom Hooper musical adaptation. The crew member spoke to The Daily Beast about working on the infamous musical film, which had an early cut where the feline characters appeared with buttholes. While the decision was anatomically correct for the cats, the look was too jarring for release. The VFX artist said, “When we were looking at the playbacks, we were like, 'What the hell? You guys see that?'”
“We paused it. We went to call our supervisor, and we're like, 'There's a fucking asshole in there! There's buttholes!' the VFX artist continued. “It wasn't prominent but you saw it. And you [were] just like, 'What the hell is that? There's a fucking butthole in there.' It wasn't in your face — but at the same time, too, if you're looking, you'll see it.”
The VFX artist was a part of the team tasked with removing the buttholes from an early cut of “Cats.” The crew member has harsh words for director Tom Hooper and calls the experience of working on the film “almost slavery.” Other crew members told The Daily Beast they would stay in the office for “two or three days at a time, sleeping under desks.” The VFX artist said Hooper would rudely criticize their work despite not having a background in animation himself.
As The Daily Beast reports: “Some aspects of the production, the source alleges, became simply absurd — like when Hooper would demand to see videos of actual cats performing the same actions the cats would do in the film. ‘And as you know,’ the source said, ‘cats don't dance.'”
The source went on to call Hooper “horrible,” “disrespectful,” and “demeaning,” adding, “When you go into a conference room, you're not allowed to speak. And he talks to you like you're garbage.”
Universal Pictures opened “Cats” in theaters over the Christmas holiday, where it bombed at the box office with just $27 million in the U.S. and $73 million worldwide. The musical carried a budget of over $80 million before marketing costs. The VFX in “Cats” became a punching bag, most notably because of the “digital fur” used to turn human actors like Idris Elba and Jennifer Hudson into felines. The Oscars featured a bit in which presenters and “Cats” actors James Corden and Rebel Wilson ripped the film’s VFX, but IndieWire’s Chris O’Falt slammed the joke because it’s Hooper’s artistic vision that is to blame for “Cats” being a disaster, not the VFX artists.
IndieWire has reached out to...